By Linda Lane
Set on a beautiful 3 1/2 acres with lovely manicured lawns, fruit trees and blooming flowers, the Hay Loft Farm at 5824 West XY in Schoolcraft was named for the beautiful lofts that comprise the two barns featured on the property. While the smaller barn remains a working one for three alpacas and chickens, the larger barn offers an indoor venue for a wedding ceremony or a stunning backdrop for an outdoor ceremony.
Formerly known as “Friendship Farm” with a breathtaking 1840s Greek Revival home, it provides a regal setting for a rustic yet gorgeous venue for a wedding or event. Built more than 20 years prior to the Civil War, the house was originally a model home in a speculative plat which was to be known as “Shirland.” That venture never developed, but the house is a stunning reminder of its long history. At one point, the property was at risk of going to auction. Neighbors in the area pitched in and saved the farm, thus earning the name “Friendship Farm” to honor the kindness of the community.
Stacey Lawrence, a social worker and therapist, was just being discharged from the U.S. Army after eight years of service when the farm went up for sale. While in the service, Lawrence had written a business plan for her dream: a wedding venue that she would own and manage. Friendship Farm was a perfect fit for her plan.
“Running the Hay Loft combines a number of my skills, including the creative component, and the need to put systems in place which I learned in the military. It’s a blend of what I like to do and what I’m good at,” Lawrence said.
The Hay Loft has five booked weddings with two open dates for 2020. Lawrence is only booking seven event weekends on every other weekend this year to ensure the property remains in a healthy state and not damaged by too much traffic. She has also hosted graduation, military retirement and other sorts of parties at their venue.
With an “a la carte” approach to her wedding facility, wedding couples can be selective in what they can afford to include in their important day. A flat fee gets a couple the barn venue and reception tent and dance floor, with additional options for tables, chairs, linens and decorations. Couples can select a caterer of their choice, making it as elaborate or as simple as they chose. If alcohol is to be served, Lawrence provides the bartending staff. The facility can accommodate up to 250 guests with adequate onsite parking.
“My goal is to give people lots of choices in planning their wedding. People have wide ranges of budgets, so it’s important to me to give couples lots of choices,” Lawrence said. The choices are listed on the Hay Loft’s web site.
A Bridal Suite in the elegant home is an add-on option. Couples can choose from three wedding ceremony sites offered on the property. A fire pit, with a s’mores bar option and an assortment of yard games are readily available for guests’ entertainment.
In addition to events, Lawrence has offered “Yoga by the Bonfire” classes and outdoor and indoor yoga classes. She can be reached at 269-532-4883 or http://www.hayloftfarm.com.